Category Archives: Random

LIVE: OK Go, Stott Center, Portland, OR

I don’t know about you, but I find school spirit contagious. Perhaps it was the free pizza, coconut water and coffee that got people fired up, maybe the prospect of t-shirts being lobbed got people going, but the celebratory mood was palpable.

OK Go was to play in the Peter Stott Athletic Center as part of Portland State of Mind, which seemed to me to be a weeklong campus event, culminating in tonight’s festivities. Egg shakers, tambourines and glowsticks in all fashions were passed out, and the event was ready to begin.

After some pre-show words and T-shirt tosses from KPSU’s finest, the massive March Forth Marching Band’s 10+ members graced the stage. Again, the energy from everyone on stage was clear. A few seconds of suspense, and the wild rumpus was underway.

Busting right out of the gate with a New Orleans funeral groove and stilt-walkers (STILTS!), M4MB mesmerized and did not ever let up. Acrobatic stunts, sychronized and Vaudeville style dancing (with audience participation involving spanking the person on either side of you), and of course more stilt work (!) wherein one reporter would wonder if the Stott’s ceiling was high enough for such things, all on top of fantastic, groovy, sexy big band music. I haven’t been so thoroughly engrossed in a performance by a band I’d heard absolutely nothing about beforehand in a long while. Many members mentioned they were Portland natives and PSU students, and I could not be prouder.
Following a few minutes of what I’m calling “Breathin’ Time”, There were a few announcements/raffle giveaways/etc, then the main attraction stormed onto the stage. Frontman Damian Kulash explained this was their first performance in over two months, and no flecks of rust showed. They opened with fan favorite “Do What You Want” and played a myriad of others, including “1,000,000 Ways”, “Get Over It”, “Invincible” and “Here it Goes Again”, unfortunately without the exercise equipment they’ve become known for. They played a rendition of “Return” around a table equipped with handbells, Kulash infiltrated the crowd for an acoustic round of “Last Leaf”, and metric tons of confetti were dropped on the unsuspecting public, sometimes 3 or 4 times in a song. After leaving for a few seconds, they returned (don’t think i didn’t notice that pun) in light-up clothing and had laser shooting guitars at the ready for an almost otherwise completely unlit “WTF?” then the army of March Forth was brought back up to assist in the epic closer that was “This Too Shall Pass”.
 And with another few blasts of shredded paper, the evening had reached its end. PSU students left to wander back to their dorms or to whatever massive party was inevitably underway in someone else’s. TOGA. TOGA. TOGA.

— Darren Hicks

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Two Boys, One Show: Mazzy Star, Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR

By Hollister Dixon and Arya Imig

After 17 years, Mazzy Star decided to make a new record, Seasons of Your Day, and go on tour to support it. The band kicked off the tour in Portland, and despite the expectations we had, Arya and I felt somewhat let down by the show. Below is the conversation we had about the performance, and how we feel after a few days.

Hollister: I don’t know what to say. I kinda started feeling underwhelmed.

Arya: Oh man, so many people walked out, dude. [Referring to the mass exodus following the band playing “that one song”, in this case “Fade Into You”]

H: That’s really ridiculous. But somehow not surprising. Did it feel kinda weird to you, too? Or was it just me? Something about the show was sorta off.

A: I don’t know about weird. It was about what I expected, given the reputation and music involved. This wasn’t a Cut Copy rave hall show, it was literally the music and only the music speaking for itself. Whether that’s alienating or not is an interesting question.

H: It felt really alienating. I thought the performance was good, but the problem was that a) the band performed almost in darkness, and b) it sounded pretty damn close to the record. It lead me to wonder, would it have just been easier to listen to the records at home in my living room, instead of standing in a giant room with a bunch of people drunkenly yelling?
You know me, I eat up reunion shows like nobody’s business. But that one felt less celebratory, and more… I guess it just felt like they were going through the motions a little bit.

A: Yeah in a lot of ways that’s exactly what they were doing. If performing live is such a god damn chore for her [Hope Sandoval, Mazzy Star frontwoman], why bother?

H: I almost feel like nobody told her that you can just make a record and not go on tour to support it. I have to wonder if the fact that Portland was the very first show of the tour might have affected it, but apparently Seattle didn’t get much out of her, either.
I get the whole “shy, semi-reclusive musician” thing, but I’ve seen a handful who have seemed grateful to get up there. Why perform, if you don’t want to? In the end, I feel sorta bad for everyone else. You and I got in free to cover it, but what about the people who paid like $40 after fees for that performance? How would you feel if that’s what you got for a show that spendy? I know it isn’t that spendy, but $40 is a fair chunk to spend on a ticket at the Crystal Ballroom, and in Portland in general, unless it’s the Schnitz or the Rose Garden or whatever.
A few days on, I feel like I wasted my time. I kinda feel bad for the people who walked out saying, “I’m never going to see that money again,” and now have a bad taste in their mouth about such wonderful, beautiful music.

A: I saw some pretty bummed expressions. And when I wandered over to all ages, people near me were spouting kinda pissed off things like, “Oh yeah let’s play another slow one”, but that was like somebody who was just a douchebag unfamiliar with them.

H: I’ll admit, the bulk of their oeuvre is unfamiliar to me, but I still know the score. It’s not as though they’re a very dynamic band, sonically speaking. They made/make blissed out dream pop. Of course they’re gonna play another fucking slow one.
What could have been better about the show? Would you see them again, after that?

A: I don’t really feel like I would see them again except if it was in a more intimate venue like the Aladdin or the Doug Fir.

H: Was that a weird case of the opener being somehow more interesting to watch than the headliner?

A: It was kind of a very stark contrast, but I appreciated it for not dragging out the monochrome.
As for what could have been better, certainly a show like that could have felt perhaps more powerful among fewer people … for how intimate that music is the space did not suit it and it wasn’t a matter of sound or anything, i thought the sound was actually pretty good where I was. Things sounded pristine. Or, as you think, almost too pristine. What was positive – i loved hearing the harmonica playing live.

H: Oh my, the harmonica made me swoon.
I’ve never had a problem with pristine, but the issue I took was that it sounded like it was a straight-up recording, if I closed my eyes. I guess, it wasn’t that it was pristine, it was that it was a little too… lifeless, maybe?
I don’t know if “lifeless” is the word, but it felt like they were just playing the notes and singing the words, instead of actually feeling them. Like I said: going through the motions.

A: I.E. pristine: don’t play the semantics game, if it sounded like the record then it sounded pristine and you had a problem with it sounding like the record.

H: Fair. I just wanted a little more mud, I guess. I didn’t want a carbon copy by a band that wasn’t really even interested in making the copy.

A: Yeah, true, it was carbon copy. Honestly though her nerves are probably at fault, because she can’t deal with improv. I thought they looked into some very swayable grooves at times. It’s definitely a wanderlust sound though; I told David [Sexton, friend of the show] they evoked the claustrophobic feel of a desert at night.

H: I can kinda see that, actually. That’s a very interesting way to put it.
When it comes down to it, I don’t feel like it was a BAD show, just disappointing. The music was fantastic, but unremarkable in its execution.
I’ll look forward to reading reports from other shows on this tour. I’d feel bad if they played a complete tour like that, with Sandoval never getting the steady footing to put on a really, really good show every night, or at least enjoy it.

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LIVE: Thee Oh Sees, Hawthorne Theater, Portland, OR

Oh SeesThee Oh Sees // Photo Credit: Jordan Portlock

By Jordan Portlock

Editor’s note: Mr. Portlock is nothing if not precocious, and as such, he’s included a visual companion. You can see a snippet of what you missed right HERE.

Party Dreams at the Cocaine Sock Hop
A little context to the reader: before seeing Thee Oh Sees this past week, I had very little exposure to the group. I knew “The Dream” and that it has graced many a rampage in Grand Theft Auto V over the past months and had gotten a chance to really sit down with the group’s most recent work, this year’s brilliant Floating Coffin, but that was pretty much it. Interestingly, most write-ups I’ve looked at on the band seem to always suggest that these writers have been there since day one. Kudos to them but keep in mind that I am a relatively new convert when reading this.
And oh boy am I a convert. After two solid but difficult to differentiate opening acts (one of which’s Iggy Pop copping frontman I may or may not have shared an offstage kiss with…), I still wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I did notice is that in the 15-20 minutes leading up to Thee Oh Sees’ set the crowd appeared to grow exponentially both in size and variety of person. What type of person would attend a show by this band? An impressive cross-section of music-goer, to be perfectly honest. I can’t think of one label that wasn’t represented in some notable capacity.
The crowd was obviously there FOR Thee Oh Sees. Opening with Floating Coffin‘s “I Came From the Mountain” the energy shook up from the ground floor into a frenzy by John Dwyer and company’s first “Woo!” & trebled out guitar burst. This energy translated into album follower, “Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster” which justifiably opened up a pit on its crushing riff’s first run-through.
There is something to be said for the amount of crowd movement (particularly compared to the lack of movement displayed for the opening bands) during Thee Oh Sees’ set. Less mosh pit and more cocaine sock hop, the crowd didn’t stop squirming until the band concluded their encore. Thee Oh Sees even managed to maintain an impressive average of one crowd surf per song. Suffice it to say, the kids were into it.
The climax of crowd energy hit during “The Dream” which followed a pattern found throughout the set of stretching the songs out to their psychedelic peak long past what their recordings might imply. It was at this point that the shirts came off and the crowd went into full-on party mode. Interestingly enough, this is what I took most from the set was that it felt like an exciting hybrid of rock show and party.
Consider me converted. Not that I was ever resistant, but for whatever reason Thee Oh Sees had proved too elusive for me to pin down. Maybe that’s part of their charm, having their own little world for people to discover where everyone is invited (yes, even the shirtless bros…) and everybody has fun. Beautiful, no? Two busted thumbs WAY up.

PHOTOS: GWAR, Whitechapel & Iron Reagan – Roseland – 10/15/’13

Yousef caught the glorious, bloody, comical, sweaty and chaotic GWAR show at the Roseland on Tuesday – featuring sets by the incredible Whitechapel and Iron Reagan. Check them out on our Facebook page HERE. Approach at your own risk.

GWAR - Roseland - 10/15/'13

Episode 46: OMGMFNW – The Prelude

Many, many thanks to Willamette Week’s Matthew Singer for joining us today! You can stream it up above, or download it right HERE!


  • MusicFest Northwest!
  • Our histories with the festival
  • Some of our favorite experiences from years past
  • The bands we’re most excited to see

Songs Used:

Bands Mentioned:

  • Antwon
  • Joey Bada$$
  • Kitty Pryde
  • Le1f
  • Kim Deal / Kelley Deal / Breeders
  • Tweens
  • Guided By Voices
  • Sebadoh
  • Snoop Dogg
  • Big Boi
  • Method Man
  • Redman
  • Lauryn Hill
  • Axl Rose / Guns ‘n’ Roses
  • Fiona Apple
  • Calvin Harris
  • No Age
  • Stephen Malkmus
  • Sam Coomes
  • Rod Argent / Colin Blunstone / The Zombies
  • The Kinks
  • Big Freedia
  • Miley Cyrus
  • Macklemore
  • Mary Lambert
  • Paul McCartney
  • Damon Albarn / Blur
  • Noel Gallagher / Oasis
  • Trent Reznor / Nine Inch Nails
  • Wavves
  • Typhoon
  • Los Campesinos!
  • John Cale
  • Shuggie Otis
  • Charles Bradley
  • Icona Pop
  • KFlay
  • Sirah
  • Grieves
  • Poolside
  • Radiation City
  • David Byrne
  • Rodriguez
  • Death
  • Bob Mould
  • Superchunk
  • Bonnie Prince Billy
  • Swans
  • Sunny Day Real Estate
  • Saves the Day
  • The Get Up Kids
  • The Shaky Hands
  • H.R. / Bad Brains
  • Robin Pecknold / Fleet Foxes
  • Menomena
  • Britt Daniel
  • Built to Spill
  • TV on the Radio
  • Ratatat
  • Les Savy Fav
  • Hellogoodbye
  • Panic at the Disco
  • Cat Power
  • Ghostface Killah
  • Bobby Bare, Jr.
  • Grizzly Bear
  • Dearhunter
  • Gil Scott-Heron
  • The Thermals
  • Panda Bear / Animal Collective
  • Dan Deacon
  • Naomi Punk
  • Parquet Courts
  • Fred Armisen
  • Ian Rubbish
  • Rebecca Gates
  • Ted Leo
  • Golden Suns
  • Washed Out
  • Beat Connection
  • Love Language
  • Titus Andronicus
  • The Baseball Project
  • Austra
  • Parson Red Heads
  • Deep Sea Driver
  • Surfer Blood
  • Sonny & the Sunsets
  • Mark Mothersbaugh
  • Tom Waits
  • Young the Giant
  • Neko Case
  • Adam Ant
  • Big Gigantic
  • Alt-J
  • Lord Huron